September 27, 2004

XP SP2 Slipstreaming

I’ve been a little light on the tech stuff here lately, instead focusing more on personal/local/photo topics. Shifting interests, I guess. I write about whatever’s on my mind; if I’m finding tech stuff boring this month, then you won’t be seeing any of it.

But I do want to point out this article I found. With the release of Service Pack 2 for Windows XP, the job of system administrator just got a little harder. This thing’s supposed to load automatically via Windows Update or Automatic Updates, but I found there were only three or four computers in my office that had loaded it so far. And if it updates automatically, I don’t have any control over it, and can’t make any changes. Like turning off or modifying the Windows Firewall, which blocks the VNC program I use to work on people’s computer from my desk.

So, I took control of the situation myself, found the 270MB “Full Download” of SP2, and spent the weekend updating 45 computers around my office. One of the biggest pains in this job is repetitive tasks like this, where you have to do the exact same sequence of events on every computer. And a service pack like this is especially bad, because you have to start it, walk away for half an hour, then come back and finish it. So I actually had to visit each computer twice.

Anyway, that’s done, and the 45 computers have SP2 installed and humming. But what happens when computer #46 comes along? Or one of them has a major crash and becomes unusable? Am I supposed to reinstall from the CD, which only has SP1, and then reapply SP2, adding half a hour to the installation time? Isn’t there some way to integrate SP2 into my Windows setup disc?

Actually, it turns out there is. It’s called “slipstreaming”, and Fred Langa wrote this in-depth article with step-by-step instructions and screenshots, describing how to do just that. He outlines the process of updating the files on your Windows installation disc to include SP2. It’s helpful stuff, especially since Microsoft hasn’t gotten around to releasing SP2-infused setup discs, and when they do they’ll cost extra money.

One bit of warning about the article: at one point Fred tells you to download the SP2 Network Installation Package. He neglects to mention that the thing is a monster 272MB download, which will take hours on even the fastest connection. So if you want to try this for yourself, make sure to budget the time for that. Go get that download first, in fact, and have it waiting and ready when you start stepping through the article.

Filed under The Computer Vet Weblog

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